Back To Basics: Networking
Here’s a word that comes straight from the eighties! Networking. Funny thing is, it’s probably more important these days than ever. It’s easy to get lost in the myriad of technology and sit for countless hours in front of a computer screen typing Email. But email will never truly replace face-to-face contact. There are subtleties of body language, eye contact etc., which cannot be reflected via email. These ‘tactile’ responses greatly contribute to building good business relationships. People like to gauge your expression. You like to size them up too. It’s only human nature to trust your instincts when meeting someone for the first time.
Opportunities abound for business networking functions. There are probably dozens of business gatherings per week within your very own community. Your local Chamber of Commerce or Toastmaster’s clubs are great places to start. They often prove to be very reliable places to pick up new leads and introduce yourself to someone who may be unfamiliar with your business. One of the most important aspects of these gatherings is the follow-up. Remember to send them a thank you note or nice to meet you, email, then follow-up with them on a business basis within a week or two. Once you’ve met someone it’s much easier to re-approach them the second time around.
Another aspect of networking usually involves contributing a ‘prize’ or donation of goods and/or services, perhaps for a door prize. Consider these freebies as wise investments for your business. Getting the winner as a customer and treating them well, leads to the very best advertising you can get. Word of mouth. They will be happy to spread the news about your business for you, in a positive way. This can also help bring new customers in the future, so don’t be afraid to donate when opportunity knocks. Networking is alive and well and a very cost-effective method of publicizing yourself. Get out there and circulate and don’t forget to bring your business cards.